Many years ago, I had the opportunity assist in adding new elements to special Sundays worship services in the church where we were laity. These additions changed the standard order, and believe me every church has their standard order of worship, liturgical or not…just deviate and you will find a whole host of folks who are rattled, some who are downright mad, and others who slept through the whole thing.
Believe me, on Penetocost Sunday, 1985 or 86, there were no sleepers…they may have nodded off before the bagpipes..but no one sleeps through bagpipes. As the bagpiper started into ‘Amazing Grace’, the congregation became alert, some ripping their hearing aids from their ears. In full Tartan regalia, the bagpiper led the the Pastor and choir into the Sanctuary. Following that entry, heads up, no eyes closed, the choir sang the ‘Call to Worship.’ A clatter arose at the back of the sanctuary as several people entered reading Acts 2 loudly as they proceeded toward the lecturns at the front. A cacophany of foreign languages stirred the natives. There were loud whispers, furrowed brows, distainful looks, embarrassed family members as they saw folks they knew causing the unintelligible babble…as the readers approached the front, they began reading in unison in American English:
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?” (Acts 2:1-8 NKJV)
Faces in the crowd relaxed as the sound and understandability of the familiar Pentecost text washed over them. In a reversal of the visitors to Jerusalem on the first Pentecost’s experience, the congregation heard a sampling of the languages of men which rendered the message noisy but empty on their ears. The visitors to Jerusalem heard the gospel clearly spoken by uneducated men whose first language was Arameic with some grasp of Hebrew. Whatever came out of their mouths, the ears of the listeners understood.
The Holy Spirit intends that men and women understand the good news in the language that will break through whatever barrier. On Pentecost, we are reminded that God, the Holy Spirit, came to indwell the believer, to help, to teach, to comfort and oh, so much more. He came so the room where the apostles and others were gathered became too confining for the power within them and they were swept out into the streets to share what God had done.